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Josh Lukin

Josh Lukin

Josh Lukin was born in Youngstown, Ohio, a Midwestern backwater traditionally dominated by organized crime: called "Murdertown USA" by the press in the early Sixties, Y-town became famous again in 2002 for having the first Congressman since Reconstruction to be sentenced to prison for felonies while in office. While earning his degree from Youngstown State University's excellent English Department, Josh sang Yiddish traditional songs in a downtown speakeasy, reviewed plays for the campus paper, and made his parents worry. Andrei Codrescu published two of Josh's undergraduate essays—on Whitman and Wilde— in Exquisite Corpse; their subjects, along with his expressions of love for James Baldwin, led a young YSU prof to solicitously ask Josh, "Are you a gay student?" Josh's next two published essays, for The Comics Journal and Anarchist Studies, dealt with comic books; but he was never asked whether he was a superhero student, so he switched to writing about noir fiction in the hope that at least people would think he was a student who's dangerous to know.

While a graduate student at SUNY-Buffalo, Josh was taught about good manners by Reichian anarchist scholar Arthur Efron: "You don't have to keep trying to prove that you're a smart person: you already got admitted to a PhD program. And you don't have to be so competitive: life is not a game of Jeopardy, and it would be very boring if it were." Armed with that knowledge, he became friends with Samuel Delany and consequently developed an interest in studying science fiction; he also began work in disability studies, thanks to celebrity professor Michael Bérubé: Michael invited Josh to speak on a disability studies panel, and Josh thought it would be impolitic to explain that that was not his field. In 2003 Josh completed his dissertation, on shame and class in the work of Patricia Highsmith, Philip Dick, and Jim Thompson, and earned his PhD; since then, he has taught at Temple University, a public university in inner city Philadelphia that serves a very diverse student population, as a contingent employee of the First Year Writing Program and member of the Temple Association of University Professionals (AFT). He also belongs to the Interdisciplinary Faculty Committee on Disability.

In addition to teaching freshman writing and the occasional literature course at Temple, Josh has given many intramural presentations, on such topics as "Salvation and Decay in Colson Whitehead," "Narrative Prosthesis in Raymond Chandler Films," and "Disability in The Souls of Black Folk." In 2008, The University Press of Mississippi published his anthology, Invisible Suburbs: Recovering Protest Fiction in the 1950s United States; he has also published work in minnesota review, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Paradoxa: Studies in World Literary Genres, and The Encyclopedia of American Disability History. He enjoys attending concerts and plays, buying books, napping, and spending time with his family: his wife, disability studies maven Ann Keefer, and her cats, Edgar Allen Poo Keefer and Hawthorne Divagrrl Princess Fluffikins Javacat Tiptree Keefer. The Book That Changed His Life is H. Bruce Franklin's Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction, which he read at fifteen; the Concerts He'll Never Forget include a 1991 outdoor performance by Hazlewood (Grace Griffith and Susan Graham White) near Baltimore's twilit Inner Harbor, where they sang Kim and Reggie Harris's "Heaven Is Less Than Fair."

It Walks in Beauty